By Emma Annette Wilson
“Already I begin to call”: so began Andrew Marvell’s foray into social media in June 2013 as he launched his Twitter feed @MarvellSociety to connect Marvellians online and reach out to far other worlds and other seas. It seems most appropriate that Marvell should join Twitter in the same quarter of 2013 that the verb “to tweet” in the sense of “make a posting on the social networking service” has entered the Oxford English Dictionary, a lexicological milestone that Marvell was able to record in one of his first micro-blogs. In having a Twitter feed we join the illustrious ranks of the RSA, the Milton Society, and a veritable host of online early modern figures including John Donne, John Bunyan, William Lylye [sic], and Robert Hooke. Beyond connecting with individuals, we are also able to use this platform to link to significant intellectual organizations and hubs of early modern scholarship such as the Sheffield Centre for Early Modern Studies, the Society for Renaissance Studies, and the Folger Institute’s programs including Early Modern Digital Agendas. This is an opportunity to forge online links with cultural and heritage institutions particularly relevant to Marvell studies such as Hull Libraries and the Hull History Centre, and moving forward it will be great to draw on the mutual products of their industry and that of Society members to spread the word of Marvellian advances to the wider online intellectual community.
A key aim of establishing a vivid presence on Twitter is engaging with new potential contributors to Marvell studies, connecting with those whose work intersects with Marvellian concerns to achieve productive scholarly symbiosis. This kind of outcome can only truly be measured in the course of time as hopefully we are able to welcome new presenters to future conferences and publications, but in the interim the statistics are encouraging, as after only three weeks the Marvell Society has already acquired 73 followers (at the original time of writing, 1 July 2013). Excitingly, at the time of proof-reading on 17 July, this number has grown to 180 followers, so many thanks to all those reading and we look forward to making many more new connections. This flurry of interest is great in raising the profile of the Society online, and in keeping Marvell studies at the forefront of early modern scholarly concerns. Having a new outreach platform is also allowing us to disseminate our Call For Papers for the 2014 South-Central Renaissance Conference on specific themes to a targeted online audience, whether for those working on Marvell and translation or Marvell and modern poetry.
To keep @MarvellSociety current and in the newsfeeds of our followers I am posting updates each day which have ranged from specific calls-to-action in a CFP to appropriate mentions of Marvell in the media, relevant related bibliographical and lexicographical research findings, and Marvellian quotations pertinent to the day in question. Moving forward, I will of course post information about publications concerning Marvell and related topics, and I would be grateful for readers of the Newsletter to forward anything which they would like to be posted to the Society’s official email address, email@example.com. Additionally, if readers come across news items, research headlines or other relevant facts, information, or tantalizing details which they would like Marvell to tweet, please send these to me and I will be happy to use as many of the links which are fitting as possible. Tim Raylor has already contributed two news items on Marvell in the Telegraph and a piece on Hull’s bid to become the UK’s City of Culture 2017, which have won us following from @BBCr4today among other high-profile accounts, so any similar items would be very welcome. In particular, if members have forthcoming publications, lectures, or presentations, it will be great to hear about those and spread the news to our followers. Thanks in advance for contributions!
Alongside our micro-blogging activities, I have recently taken over the running of our Facebook page originally established by Matthew Augustine. Here we have more long-term postings regarding our upcoming conferences, publications, and related Calls For Papers, and again, suggestions for such posts are very welcome. I am also reaching out to relevant related pages and early modern links within Facebook so that we can establish a clear presence on two of the most important social media sites in parallel with other early modern literary societies.
Another facet of Marvell’s social media presence is his posting of relevant photographs of buildings, places, and potentially in the future documents as a way of allowing his work to come to life in a more vivid forum. Thus far he has participated in the Twitter phenomenon of #throwbackThursday with photographs of his childhood home in Hull and his Grammar School, so look forward to future photographic updates of this ilk!
Thus we see Marvell embark on his exciting adventures in social media to reach out to members new and old with regular updates, so that every day can be marvelous in a micro-blogging way. This is the start of a new way of disseminating our Calls For Papers, Society events, and Marvell-related publications, so I am excited to go on this journey with @MarvellSociety, and look forward to receiving suggestions for updates to post. It is perhaps worth noting that in the time I have been typing this brief article, we have acquired another follower, so it looks as if Marvell is set to have a very large network of friends online.
University of Western Ontario